In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

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It is just before New Year's. Frank, an overweight American tourist, has hired Kenji to take him on a guided tour of Tokyo's sleazy nightlife on three successive evenings. But Frank's behavior is so strange that Kenji begins to entertain a horrible suspicion: that his new client is in fact the serial killer currently terrorizing the city. It isn't until the second night, however, in a scene that will shock you and make you laugh and make you hate yourself for laughing, that Kenji learns exactly how much he has to fear and how irrevocably his encounter with this great white whale of an American will change his life.

Kenji's intimate knowledge of Tokyo's sex industry, his thoughtful observations and wisecracks about the emptiness and hypocrisy of contemporary Japan, and his insights into the shockingly widespread phenomena of "compensated dating" and "selling it" among Japanese schoolgirls, give us plenty to think about on every page. Kenji is our likable, if far from innocent, guide to the inferno of violence and evil into which he unwillingly descends-and from which only Jun, his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, can possibly save him...

About Ryu Murakami

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RYU MURAKAMI was born in 1952. The only son of schoolteacher parents, he grew up in the port city of Sasebo in southwestern Japan. After graduating from a local high school, where he played the drums in a band called Coelacanth, he went to an art college in Tokyo. It was while studying there that he entered his first novel, Almost Transparent Blue, in a competition for new writers. Published in 1976, the book won a major literary award and sold over a million copies. Since then, he has worked for a publishing house, presented a weekly music and interview radio program, and hosted a TV talk show. His literary output includes two collections of stories Run, Takahashi (1985) and Topaz (1988), and the novel Coin Locker Babies (1980), which made its debut in English early in 1995. His roman a clef 69 appeared in English in 1993. He has also directed four movies based on his writing, causing a sensation at an Italian film festival when Tokyo Decadence was shown there in 1992. His latest film is set in the U.S. and Cuba.
Published December 18, 2003 by Kodansha USA. 180 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Miso Soup

Kirkus Reviews

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Alternately servile and truculent, Frank claims to be a Toyota parts importer from Manhattan, but he shows little interest in cars and doesn’t seem to know much about New York.

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The Guardian

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Vibrator by Mari Akasaka, trans Michael Emmerich (176pp, Faber, £9.99) In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami, trans Ralph McCarthy (192pp, Bloomsbury, £10) Why is so much Japanese fiction now being translated into English?

Mar 12 2005 | Read Full Review of In the Miso Soup

Entertainment Weekly

Kenji is an expert on the subject: Only 20 years old, he uses his knowledge of the city's seedy Kabuki-cho district and its underground sex scene to make a buck as a tour guide for visiting gaijin.

Jan 23 2004 | Read Full Review of In the Miso Soup

USA Today

No one, Murakami seems to say, is completely guilty because we are shaped by the world around us.If you like noir, Miso is dark enough for those who want to expand their exposure to Japanese culture beyond sushi, comics and video games.And after finishing Miso, you might then want to experience M...

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ForeWord Reviews

Tour guide of the night Kenji realizes that all is not well with his latest job when a piece of burnt human skin ends up stuck to his front door—and that’s just the beginning of his problems.

Dec 18 2003 | Read Full Review of In the Miso Soup

Alternative Magazine Online

The true beauty and horror of In The Miso Soup is that Frank and Kenji are equally lost, and most readers won’t be far behind them.

Aug 25 2010 | Read Full Review of In the Miso Soup


And this is the case of the novel as a whole, it works as a thriller, a page-turner – one not for the weak of stomach – but its attempts at a greater cultural resonance seem laboured.

Feb 20 2006 | Read Full Review of In the Miso Soup

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